The Way We Approached This Book—Methodologies and Methods of Inquiry

We adopted a meta-analytical approach to the field of coaching in a global world. Our aim is to take a critical perspective on the implications for coaching of the various phenomenon that have and are influencing the growth of coaching, such) and as an instrument to enhance performance and organisational transformation and change. (Hamlin, Ellinger and Beattie 2008). Meta-analysis has a distinct definition in both quantitative and qualitative research approaches. According to Paterson et al. (2001: 1), a key aspect of meta-analysis is the generation of ‘new ways of thinking about phenomenon.’ In this book we aim to adopt a different approach from the established approach to meta-analysis that presents a detailed analysis of all of the research findings within a specific field. We suggest that before such a study can be undertaken the main phenomenon within the field will need to be identified so that more research analysis can be undertaken to focus on each of the phenomenon within the field. Accordingly we will use a meta-analysis proposed by Patton (1990: 406-407) to identify the patterns of coaching as a global phenomenon and discuss how these patterns, forms, and shapes may direct, or not, the future of coaching. This approach is related to the use of grounded theory as an approach to understanding the field as is rather than the field as we consider it to be (Glaser and Strauss 1967; Locke 2001; Strauss and Corbin 1990). We believe this approach will enable us to present a more critical perspective of how different forms of coaching, genres/philosophies of coaching, and the main phenomenon in the field have emerged and are positioned, and the implications of this for the evolution of coaching.

According to Glaser and Strauss (1967: 21ff), the underlying purpose of using grounded theory, as a research methodology is to generate a substantive theory, the theory is considered to be ‘work in progress’ or ‘emergent’ in nature (Dick 2000: 3) and, as such, can be used as a foundation for further research in the chosen field (Glaser and Strauss 1967). This is a different approach to the ‘scientific’ approach, as Robson (1993: 18) points out, ‘the scientific approach is usually regarded as starting with theory.’ It is important to point out that it is not the purpose of grounded theory to test or verify theories, rather it is used to assemble evidence, collected in terms of. .. preferably personal interviews and or surveys, to uncover ideas and fresh hypotheses from the research subjects and field (Glaser and Strauss 1967: 28-31; Gummesson 1991: 83).

The grounded theory approach is a qualitative research method that uses a systematic set of procedures to develop an inductively derived grounded theory about a phenomenon.

(Strauss and Corbin 1990: 24)

The main idea underpinning grounded theory is the constant comparative method by which the theory is developed. We interviewed some of our participants, and emailed questions to a wider range of participants, whom we were in touch with across Asia and the UK, we then analysed, compared the information, and surfaced the themes, which we then used to structure the narrative parts of the book. Glaser and Strauss (1967) and Strauss and Corbin (1990) were committed to the formation of hypotheses that reflected the field rather than taking existing theories and then looking for examples in the field to support the theory. As Lincoln & Guba state: ‘Grounded theory ... is theory that follows from data rather than preceding them (as in conventional inquiry)’(1985: 204).

Therefore, to bring an established theoretical framework from the discipline of social psychology to grounded theory research may bias the authors and prevent us from noticing what was happening in the interviews and setting in which we were researching. For example, to assume, at the beginning of the study, that the processes of the global business of coaching are the same as a typical business process may have closed the author’s minds to the other possibilities that existed within the field. However, as Glaser and Strauss (1967), and Strauss and Corbin (1990), identify, it is useful during the research process to use the existing literature as another data source to compare and contrast the categories that were emerging from the data. This was then used to develop and enhance the line of research, with the proviso that the field data gathering process is the directional driver within the inquiry and that the literature remained as a supporter and challenger to the study. We therefore

Introduction, Rationale, and Overview 7 gathered information from the various groups of participants and analysed these to provide the themes that we have used as a soft structure for the chapters and then using the literature we have presented a critical review and then in separate sections we have included the participants’ narratives and presented them as provisional narratives that require further research and inquiry.

The theory generated during grounded theory research offers perspectives and ideas for understanding the underlying problems or issues in a particular field of research or general problem area. (Glaser and Strauss 1967) It is important to note that a substantial theory is not generalizable outside of the context in which it has been generated and as a result will require more research to generate a fully grounded theory. We have surfaced themes that can now be taken further, and may be used to develop a grounded theory of coaching, that can aid practitioners and decisions makers to design and develop effective coaching processes. We have suggested some questions at the end of each chapter that can be used to continue research in the coaching field.

In addition, another reason for adopting a grounded theory approach focused on access to the coaching literature. The literature appears to be spread across multiple journals, e.g., psychology, social sciences, leadership development, and organisational development. Access to these journals is often dependent on the following factors’ membership of a university library; journal access is often restricted via a subscription or paywall.

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